Intelligence Chief Is Clueless in Congress

12/14/2006 11:30 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Does intelligent life on the Intelligence Committee matter?

This isn't an existential question. It arises because Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi, in an appointment fraught with intrigue, selected Representative Silvestre Reyes to be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

In an interview posted on Congressional Quarterly's Web site on Dec. 8, Reyes couldn't answer the most basic question about the antagonists in the biggest foreign policy disaster confronting the U.S.

``Is al-Qaeda a Sunni organization, or Shiite?'' Reyes was asked by reporter Jeff Stein. ``Predominantly, probably Shiite,'' he answered.

Later in the same interview, Reyes was asked about Hezbollah, the militant group in Lebanon that recently, as most people who read newspapers know, had a small war with Israel. ``Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah?'' ``Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o'clock?''

True enough, late afternoon is like the dead of night to members of Congress, who prefer bankers' hours and a three-day workweek. In his defense, Reyes said, ``It's hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.''

Translated, that means he can figure out his job without figuring out who's killing whom and why, in a part of the world where we've lost almost 3,000 Americans and untold numbers of Iraqis.

Read the whole column here.